Encyclopedia of Trotskyism On-Line: Revolutionary History, Vol. 6 No. 1
Amnesty International and the Case of Ludwik Hass
Note on the Letters sent on Behalf of an International Association called “Amnesty International” Addressed to the First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Polish United Workers Party Concerning the Freeing of Ludwik Hass
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL is an organisation composed of people of different nationalities. The principle aim is activity to release prisoners deprived of their freedom because of their political or religious convictions. The organisation is based in London, and its greatest influence is in Great Britain. Amnesty International has a consultative status in the UN and the European Council. The organisation has an Executive Committee composed of five people. Its president is a representative of Ireland, the Secretary of the International Lawyers Commission Sean MacBride. There are also representatives of France, Denmark, Belgium and the BRD [West Germany] on the committee. The funds come mainly from Great Britain, Ireland and Denmark. The organisation is supported by many famous personalities: Pablo Neruda, Professor La Pira, Professor Colder, Professor Oppenheimer, the General Prosecutor in Great Britain Elwyn Jones, and many others, including Nobel Prize winning writers.
The committee of this organisation meets twice a year to work out the general direction of its policy. Among others, it decides which three prisoners should be adopted per month, on whose behalf the members of this organisation will intervene for their release. Usually one of the prisoners comes from a country in Western Europe, one from the Socialist countries, and one from the countries of the Third World. The centre of the organisation sends its members the names and addresses of the people on behalf of whom they intervene.
In connection with Ludwik Hass, altogether 57 letters and postcards have been sent to the First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Polish United Workers Party, 33 from Great Britain, seven from the USA, six from Sweden, five from Canada, three from Holland, one from Norway, one from the BRD and one from Ireland. The majority of them are identical postcards printed by Amnesty International, picturing three white doves on a blue and black background (one copy enclosed). Some letters have stamps of the organisation stuck on them.
The whole correspondence was sent in the period between 19 and 25 April. It is difficult to establish the profession of the senders (usually it is not given). In some letters it is stated that the senders are university research employees. One of the English senders also says that he is a member of the British Young Communist League.
The content of the letters is usually identical. It is stated in them that the imprisonment of L Hass is in contradiction with the General Declaration of Human Rights. Some of the letters have identical content, despite the fact that they were posted in different countries (Great Britain, Sweden, Holland, USA). It is as following: “I am a member of Amnesty International and I was very moved by the arrest of L Hass, which seems to contradict the General Declaration of Human Rights. I am convinced that the aims of this declaration are also of value to you as much as to the rest of the world, and you will show mercy in this case.” Some of the senders ask for mercy because of the long period in prison spent by Hass already. In other letters, it is stated that he acted only according to his convictions, and that this cannot be the reason to deprive him of his freedom, because everyone has a right to freedom of speech, free expression of opinion and independent political views. Some of the senders write that Hass was imprisoned without a court hearing, which is against the law. All the letters end with an appeal to show mercy and a request to release L Hass.
It should be assumed that the letters and postcards will continue to arrive.
Updated by ETOL: 3.11.2011